UCLA links: Despite underwhelming start, Stanford still powerful

UCLA’s Jayon Brown (12) and teammates wrap up Stanford’s Bryce Love during the first half at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena on Saturday, September 24, 2016. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Stanford has a very un-Stanford-like record and rushing defense, but UCLA head coach Jim Mora is not convinced this year’s version of the Cardinal are any different than previous iterations.

“They’re still Stanford,” Mora said. “They’re smart, they’re tough, they’re physical, they’re disciplined.”

The Cardinal have allowed 478 rushing yards in the past two games — both losses — and the Bruins are hoping to maintain an upward trend in their running attack. UCLA had a season-high 170 rushing yards last week against Memphis.

More on the Cardinal and UCLA’s running game

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UCLA links: Defense searching for answers (still)

Memphis running back Darrell Henderson (8) gets past UCLA defenders Matt Dickerson (99) and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (91) as Henderson runs for an 80-yard gain in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Jim Mora wanted pressure. Tom Bradley was hesitant. Right after Memphis had a pseudo-timeout due to an official review? But the head coach called for the pressure anyway.

Then UCLA gave up a 33-yard touchdown catch to Anthony Miller, turning its four-point lead into a three-point deficit going into halftime.

“I called a pressure because I was frustrated,” Mora said of the play Monday, two days after UCLA’s 48-45 loss to Memphis. “We came free, but the linebacker that was blitzing was late and we left Darnay (Holmes) on an island. The reason why it’s not a good call is that coming out of a timeout, they have time to prepare. They have time to talk about it: ‘If they pressure, this is where we’ll go.’ No. 2, I should have thought about the fact that Darnay had just gotten beat and tried to help him. He’s a freshman. He’s an environment that he’s never been in before. I wanted to be aggressive, it was just a stupid call on my part. That was bad.”

The UCLA defense has a lot of mistakes to fess up to after allowing 515.3 yards per game through its first three contests. With a growing list in injuries and a critical conference game ahead, the Bruins are going back to the drawing board.

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First look: UCLA at Stanford

Stanford running back Bryce Love (20) is chased by California defenders on a 48-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

UCLA (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12) at Stanford (1-2, 0-1 Pac-12)
Saturday, Sept. 23 | 7:30 p.m. PT | Stanford Stadium
TV: ESPN
Radio: AM 1150

Scouting report

The Cardinal are in unfamiliar territory. The only other time Stanford has had a losing record in head coach David Shaw’s tenure was after losing the season opener to Northwestern in 2015, a season that still ended with a Rose Bowl victory. Now the Cardinal are coming off back-to-back losses, including a 20-17 upset by San Diego State that knocked them from the AP Poll last weekend.

Stanford has long been known as a powerful team that wins on the line of scrimmage, but Shaw admitted that USC beat the Cardinal at their own game two weeks ago. Stanford started a true freshman at left tackle against San Diego State and needed the big-play ability of running back Bryce Love to carry a struggling offense.

The defensive line is also struggling to control the line of scrimmage since losing Solomon Thomas. The Cardinal has allowed 478 rushing yards in the past two games. Continue reading “First look: UCLA at Stanford” »

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